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The history of our family is inextricably linked to the history of New Mexico. Our ancestors have been here from the beginning of New Mexico’s Spanish colonial era, even to the present time. In order to understand and appreciate our heritage, it is necessary to look at our pedigree through the lenses of history. It is especially important, because we have very little in the way of personal histories from our ancestors. This article is an abridged version of my family’s history. It superimposes my patriarchal Martinez line over the backdrop of New Mexico history, as written by such notables as Robert J. Torrez, Fray Angelico Chavez, Donald J. Usner, and others.

Every account of any branch of the extensive New Mexico Martinez family begins with The Sargento of the Oñate expedition - Hernan Martin Serrano, the progenitor of the vast Martinez Clan. He had several sons, including one Luis Martin Serrano.

A Move Up The Santa Cruz Valley

San Gabriel served as the capital of New Mexico until the new villa of Santa Fe was established and the seat of government moved there in 1610. During the next several decades, a thin string of Spanish settlements was established along the Rio Grande, from Socorro in the south to the Taos Valley in the north.

Luis Martin Serrano lived at (Santa Cruz de) "La Cañada, where he allegedly hid an illegitimate child of Governor Manso before it was spirited off to Mexico City. His wife was Catalina de Salazar, who was a widow by 1663. At this time, we learn that Luis had been Alcalde Mayor and Captain of the Tewa jurisdiction. Catalina was very likely a daughter of Captain Sebastian Rodrigues de Salazar. They had two sons, Luis Martin Serrano II and Pedro Martin Serrano de Salazar." – Fray Angelico Chavez ONMF

Like many of our ancestors, Luis was "disliked by Governor Mendizabal for his friendship with the friars; he also accused Luis of being the man who broke down the door when Governor Rosas was assasinated. - Fray Angelico Chavez ONMF

It appears that our Martin line eventually moved up to Chimayo, considered at that time to include the whole upper Santa Cruz Valley. Donald J. Usner gives the following background information on Chimayo:

Chimayo had been mentioned in documents prior to the Pueblo Revolt. Indeed, the few records that survive from the prerevolt era mention three settlements at Chimayo or in the Chimayo district. Sabino’s Map (SM) pg. 45 

Papers from the time of the first Hispanic settlement in New Mexico in the early 1600s refer to a place called Chimayo. It seems that in this early period people conceived of Chimayo as the whole upper Santa Cruz Valley, naming the area after the cerro called Tsi Mayoh by the Tewa Pueblos. As far as the records tell there was no townsite called Chimayo during this time. People lived in scattered homes and maintained their farms throughout the valley. Sabino’s Map (SM) pg. 54

Luis Martin Serrano II, son of the Alcalde Mayor, and born sometime between 1629 and 1633, moved his family up the Santa Cruz Valley, following the river to a spot that he felt would provide good farming land upon which he and his growing family could subsist. He is described as having a slender physique, dark complexion, black hair and beard, and a mole on the left cheek.


In 1675 forty-seven Pueblo caciques, or priests, were arrested and charged with practicing sorcery and plotting to rebel against the Spanish. Four of these religious leaders were hanged, and the others whipped, reprimanded, and released. Among the caciques who felt the sting of the lash was Popay (also known as Popé), from San Juan Pueblo. Popay is generally believed to have spent the years following his release traveling among the pueblos and organizing an uprising, which eventually expelled the Spanish from New Mexico.

From a base of operations at Taos, Popay and his confederates laid out a plan, which demanded the unprecedented cooperation and participation of all of New Mexico's Pueblos. At a prearranged signal, each Pueblo was to raze its mission church, then kill the resident priest and neighboring Spanish settlers. Once the outlying Spanish settlements were destroyed, the Pueblo forces would converge on the isolated capital of Santa Fe.

August 11, 1680 was set as the date for the uprising. Runners were dispatched to all the Pueblos carrying cords with knots, which signified the number of days remaining until the appointed day. Each morning the Pueblo leadership untied one knot from the cord, and when the last knot was untied, it was the signal for them to rise in unison. A few days before the scheduled day, however, two runners were captured. Concerned that their plan had been compromised, the Pueblo leadership decided to begin the revolt one day earlier than originally planned. Runners were sent out with new instructions to begin the Revolt on August 10th.

That morning, from the northern Tiwa Pueblo of Taos to the Tewa villages north of Santa Fe, the attacks began. It quickly became apparent, however, that the capture of the runners at Tesuque had disrupted the carefully crafted plan for a coordinated uprising. Some outlying Pueblos apparently received word of the change in plans too late, and a few not at all. Consequently, most of our ancestors were able to escape the initial onslaught.

"The insurgents killed every settler and priest in or near the pueblos of San Juan, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Jacoma, Nambe, and Pojoaque, but the lives of … most of the residents of Santa Cruz (Chimayo) were spared in the Revolt because of the advance warning of the impending attack. They gathered at the home of Luis de Quintana in Santa Cruz de la Cañada and on August 13th fled south to join the governor in Santa Fe." (SM pg. 41). Luis Martin Serrano II escaped with his wife and twelve children, four of these being sons of military age. One of those sons was Francisco, who was in his early twenties. Luis held the rank of captain (and was around forty-seven years old). Domingo Martin Serrano, Luis’ uncle, and his family also escaped. (ONMF pg. 72).

Throughout the province, our ancestors continued to gather for protection and pray for help. In Santa Fe, Governor Antonio de Otermin marshaled the city's resources for a defense of the capital and sent out heavily armed relief parties, which escorted the survivors to the relative safety of Santa Fe's fortified casas reales.

By August 15, 1680 thousands of Pueblo warriors converged on Santa Fe and laid siege on the fortified city. Unable to dislodge the Spanish from the palace grounds, the Pueblos cut off their water supply, a ditch which ran through the sprawling compound. After two days without water, their food supplies dwindling, and unaware anyone else had survived, Governor Otermin decided it was time to abandon New Mexico. On August 21st, a column of nearly one thousand refugees cautiously withdrew from the capital. As they made their way south, columns of smoke could be seen rising from the ruins of destroyed churches and Spanish settlements. Twenty-one Franciscans, and more than 400 colonists lay dead. The refugees slowly retreated to El Paso del Norte, the southernmost settlement in the province.

The refugees, including a significant number of widows and orphans, spent the winter following their expulsion from New Mexico at what was supposed to be a temporary camp near El Paso de Norte, present-day Ciudad Juarez. Here Otermin made plans for an early reconquest of the rebellious province.

An inspection held by Lieutenant Governor and Captain General Alonso Garcia at the pueblo of El Paso de Norte revealed terrible conditions among those families that had managed to escape.

Charles Wilson Hackett and Clair Charmion Shelby’s book "Revolt of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Otermin’s Attempted Reconquest 1680-1682" states that the conditions among the Martín Serrano survivors were very poor. The report stated that many in the family had no provisions or cornfields, were indecent in dress and that many of the children were almost naked. The family of Captain Luis Martín Serrano II arrived at El Paso del Norte with his family (which consisted of seven persons) with only the clothing on their backs. His brother, Pedro Martín Serrano y Salazar, and family, which consisted of ten family members, was like the rest--poorly provisioned and clothed. Even the military leaders were lacking in provisions and clothing. The family of maestre de campo Francisco Gomez Robledo, which consisted of thirty-one persons, was found to be wearing clothing that was indecent, or at the least badly worn out.

After the Spaniards had assembled, a junta de guerra (council of war) was convened, with all the senor military rank participating, including Captain Luis Martín Serrano II. Luis was of the opinion that a retaliatory strike should occur if adequate supplies--horses, ammunition, and food--could be obtained. But Otermin approached the task badly prepared and under the impression the Pueblos would be penitent for having revolted, and, tired of Apache raids, would welcome the Spanish back. Instead, he discovered the Pueblos would not easily give up their newfound freedom. As Otermin's expedition retreated, the Spanish burned the Pueblo of Isleta and took with them nearly four hundred of its inhabitants, who were resettled at what is today known as Isleta del Sur, near El Paso. The Spanish settled down, planted crops, and took steps to maintain themselves indefinitely.

From 1681 to 1692 the Spaniards that were gathered in El Paso and Isleta del Sur managed to settle down and to raise their families. From the census taken in 1692 at Isleta, which was a distance of four leagues north of El Paso del Norte we find six Martín Serrano families listed as residents. Included in this list was Captain Luis Martín Serrano II and his family which consisted of his wife, Melchora de Los Reyes Gonzales, and some of his children. 


In 1690, Diego de Vargas Zapata Lujan Ponce de Leon was appointed Governor of New Mexico. When he assumed office at El Paso del Norte the following year, his assignment for the reconquest of New Mexico consisted of two parts. He was to first make a preliminary entry to determine the condition of the province, and obtain the surrender of the rebellious pueblos, peacefully, if possible, but by force if necessary. When this was accomplished, he was to recolonize New Mexico's abandoned settlements and reestablish the destroyed missions.

By October of 1693, de Vargas was on his way with one hundred soldiers, seventy families, eighteen Franciscan friars, and a number of Tlaxlacan allies to begin the recolonization of New Mexico. In addition to the personnel, several thousand horses and mules and almost a thousand head of livestock followed the main force of the expedition. Six wagons and eighty mules hauled supplies, including three cannon.

When the capture of Santa Fe was complete, De Vargas divided the stores of corn, beans, and other foodstuffs among the Spanish families, and the colonists then occupied the houses vacated by the defeated natives. Afterwards, seventy Pueblo defenders were executed and several hundred captured men, women, and children sentenced to ten years servitude. 


Excerpts from "Sabino’s Map (SM): Life in Chimayo’s Old Plaza", by Donald J. Usner:

"Because of the presence of the angry Tanos, the Santa Cruz Valley posed particularly vexing problems for Vargas as he proceeded to oversee settlement of the reclaimed province. He knew that Tanos had claimed the valley. Riding through during his campaign of reconquest in 1692, Vargas had taken pains to note that the Indians were using fields and ditches that the Spanish settlers had built before the Pueblo Revolt. ...A few years before Vargas’ reconquest, most of the Tanos had moved into the Santa Cruz Valley, where they took over fields abandoned by the Spanish settlers." SM pg. 43

"In the fall of 1694, Vargas visited the two Santa Cruz Valley pueblos and assigned a priest to minister to both. By the next spring, Vargas faced a need to find a suitable land for settlers arriving from Mexico. He announced plans to settle the entire Santa Cruz Valley, but peacefully evicting the Tanos from the land that had once belonged to Spanish citizens proved to be more than Vargas could accomplish." SM pg. 44

"People were already rebuilding their prerevolt farms. (While) Granillo (was) reconnoiter(ing) the Santa Cruz Valley… he noted the presence of at least twelve farms in the valley. He remarked on the Martinez estancia at a distance of about half of a league (one and a half miles) from the Tano grant.... The Martinez family had returned from exile in El Paso to reestablish farms in the Santa Cruz Valley. Granillo wrote in 1695 that the home consisted of standing walls only and that five families were living in the ruins. These people were Luis Martin, who had lived on the land prior to the Revolt, and his married children."  SM pg. 48 


Santa Fe, at the beginning of 1694, was the lone outpost of Spain in New Mexico. Continual battles between the Spanish and the natives kept the Spaniards in Santa Fe from planting crops. Starvation was a real possibility. The arrival of two hundred and thirty additional colonists from Mexico City in June simply exacerbated the situation. De Vargas attacked the pueblos to gain their stores but in doing so also forced their capitulation. By January of the following year, de Vargas could claim that most of the Rio Grande valley was under the domination of the Spanish. The reconstituted colony began to grow as more colonists arrived from Mexico. The villa at Santa Cruz, was founded by Vargas in 1695, specifically to accommodate the families recruited at Mexico City.

Rebellion by the Indians broke out in Santa Cruz a year later on June 4, 1696. Five missionaries and twenty-one other Spaniards were killed. Hostile Pueblo forces burned the missions, and the people of the pueblos in revolt fled into the mountains.

During the rebellion, The Tano from San Cristobal (near Chimayo) assembled in the mountains, where they had stockpiled most of their corn, clothing, and weapons of war and had set traps (Rio de las Trampas ?) at the entrances to their mountain stronghold "to make themselves invincible." (The local priest) had overheard mutterings of a planned major rebellion and feared for his life.

The rebels of San Cristobal staged their long-planned attack, joining in the Indian uprising. Fulfilling "the priest’s" worst premonitions, they murdered him and a visiting priest and left their disrobed bodies laying face up in front of the church at San Cristobal. The corpses were laid across each other to form the shape of a cross – a grisly mockery of the Catholic faith they so resented.

Unlike the Revolt of 1680, this rebellion was poorly planned, and the rebels divided into several distinct factions. One powerful faction was under the command of a Cochiti named Lucas Naranjo. In late July, de Vargas left Santa Fe with Spanish soldiers and native troops from Pecos in search of Naranjo and his group, finding them hidden in the slopes of a canyon awaiting the arrival of the Spanish. During the battle, Naranjo was killed by a harquebus shot to the Adam's apple by a Spanish soldier who then beheaded him. Said de Vargas, "It gave me great pleasure to see the said rebel apostate dog in that condition. A pistol shot that was fired into his right temple had blown out his brains leaving the said head hollow." The remaining rebels fled and the allies from Pecos were given Naranjo's severed head as a trophy of war.

After the fall of Naranjo, the rebellion began to collapse. The most active rebels in the central Rio Grande valley were destroyed. Those who had fled their pueblos to the mountains were leaderless and in desperate circumstance. The Spanish had appropriated stores of food after each victory, and the people remaining in the mountains faced the choice of either returning to their pueblos and accepting Spanish governance or starving.

The Pueblo occupation of the Chimayo area ended with the departure of the Tanos, who by the end of their ordeal must have been reduced to a starving, ragged band. It was in this perilous time that Francisco Xavier Martin was born to Francisco Martin Serrano and Juana Garcia.

This rebellion is often called the Second Pueblo Revolt. For the next several years New Mexico suffered terribly from almost continual warfare. Many pueblos were abandoned and their population dispersed as their inhabitants sought refuge in the mountains and among the Navajo and Apache. But the Pueblos had weakened by several years of warfare and were unable to resist effectively. Soon, more Spanish families arrived in Santa Fe, the missions were reestablished, Spanish settlements grew, and the Pueblos repopulated. By the close of the seventeenth century, a new era of New Mexico history could begin.


Petition for land in Chimayo written in 1706 by Luis Lopez:

Luis Lopez, native of this kingdom, inhabitant of [Santa Cruz de] la Cañada, married and with children, I appear before you in good faith… And I state that, finding myself in this kingdom of original settlers, having been here since 1693 when it was resettled, I find myself with neither farmland nor house. And I know of a piece of land that has not been settled above the Cañada de Chimayo which has never been cultivated, and [has never had] an owner except for the King (may God keep him), and the boundaries are an arroyo that divides the property [from that of] Francisco Martin and with ditch that the Thano Indians made when they lived in San Cristobal, which is on the south side, and another arroyo touches the north part whose boundary follows along the road to Taos.

The Martinez estancia in Chimayo that was resettled by Luis and his five married children was at least partially in the hands of Francisco by 1706, when Luis Lopez wrote his petition for land. Tradition and legal precedent would have required that he share his deceased father’s land with his siblings, but the division may have left him little land to support the ever growing Martinez family. "(At this time) much of the Rio Grande Valley and the Santa Cruz area (was already) claimed by other settlers, missions, or pueblos that drove (some) to explore the upper Santa Cruz Valley. The promise of land there was enough to tempt (many) away from the safer core of Hispanic settlement and out to the more vulnerable hinterland of Chimayo (and beyond)." SM pg. 42.

"Disputes about land use started early in Chimayo’s history. In 1712… a complaint to the governor (was made) concerning Melchora de los Reyes. (Luis) Lopez complained that Melchora was causing great harm to her neighbors by prohibiting them from grazing their horses and flocks in the communal pastures. The governor sent Roque Madrid to inform Melchora de los Reyes that she should not block entrance to the pastures." SM pg. 49

Juan Pasqual Martin was born to Francisco Xavier Martin and Felipa Lucero (Rivera) in 1739 in the land of his fathers. By the time Juan was an adult and ready to start his own family, however, it appears that there was no land left to sustain him.

Donald J. Usner made the following comments about the Plaza del Cerro, located near the old Martinez Estancia: "If it had assumed the name of its founding families, the Plaza del Cerro might have been called... the Plaza de los Martinez." (SM – pg. 63). Everyone who knows the history of the old Plaza knows that the influence of the Martinez family declined early on, leaving room for the new Ortega families of Chimayo. While there is evidence that some of the Martinez clan headed to lower Chimayo, our line headed the opposite direction.

Juan raised his family twenty-two miles up to the Sangre de Cristo Mountain village of Las Trampas, where his young wife (13 years old), Maria de los Reyes Lujan (Chacon), had been raised. Trampas was established in 1751 (just a couple of years before Maria was born) by twelve families from Santa Fe, led by Juan de Arguello, who had received a land grant from Governor Tomas Velez Cachupin. The resulting settlement, officially christened Santo Tomas Apostol del Rio de las Trampas, "St. Thomas the Apostle of the River of Traps," took its name from the Rio de las Trampas that flows through it. Maria’s mother is not named as one of the founding families, so she may have immigrated to the village within a few years of its founding. 

Baan for Juan Pasqual Martin and Maria Reyes Chacon:

1766, May 30 (no. 18a), Santa Cruz, JUAN PASQUAL MARTIN (27) of Chimayo, son of Francisco Martin and Felipa Lucero, and Maria Reyes Chacon (13) of Las Trampas, natural d. of Rita Chacon. Witnesses: Manual de Arteaga, notary; Nicolas Apodaca and Juan Antonio Lopez (25) of Chimayo; Juan Manuel Cordova (27) of Las Trampas; Francisco Sisneros (41) of S. Juan living in the Picuris district. – Roots Ltd, Vol. 6.

Marriage record – Juan Martin vez. de Chimayo con Maria de los Santos Reyes Lujan, de las Trampas:

On the 19th day of June of 1766 [year] I marry and bless in the face of the church [with the church’s authority] Maria de los Santos Reyes, [parents unknown] with Juan Martin, resident of Chimayo, son of Francisco Martin. FHL #16869.


The 1700s were a period of extraordinary change for New Mexico. Following the Pueblo Revolt and Reconquest, the authority of the Catholic Church was reduced substantially, and because of the expanding influence of the French, English, and Russians in North America, the Spanish government held on to New Mexico principally as a defensive buffer against these enemies of the Spanish Crown.

The 18th century was an incessant cycle of raids on Spanish settlements and Pueblos by the various nomadic Indian groups, which inhabited New Spain's northern frontier, and of Spanish retaliatory campaigns against these raiders. To fully understand the scope of this problem, it is necessary to realize that New Mexico was quite literally surrounded by hostile tribes. Along New Mexico's northern and eastern frontier were the Comanche and Jicarilla Apache. To the north and northwest were the Utes, who constantly fought with the Comanche, and often allied themselves with the Spanish, but they, too, raided the Spanish towns and Pueblos of the upper Rio Grande when it suited them. To the northwest and west were las provincias de Navajo, or Navajo Territory; and to the southwest, south and southeast, the various other Apache tribes.

While each of these tribes presented New Mexico with problems at various times during the century, it was the Comanche who posed the greatest threat to the colony's survival. By 1750, this tribe had extended their power throughout much of what is now eastern Colorado, northeastern New Mexico, and western Texas. Spanish archives tell of Comanche attacks on many New Mexican communities throughout the century.

"After repeated pleas for official action, the Viceroy held a council in Chihuahua in 1778 and issued orders for consolidation of the towns. When the news trickled down to New Mexico, a reorganization of settlements began. The villas, except for Santa Fe, were organized into plaza-type towns. Rural communities also were consolidated.

The two defensive plazas of the Santa Cruz Valley – at Santa Cruz and at the foothills in Chimayo – as well as those at Trampas, and elsewhere, probably had their origins in this period. The Chimayosos probably came together to build the Plaza del Cerro sometime in the late eighteenth century during the phase of consolidation of New Mexico settlements." – (SM pg. 60). Our Martin(ez) line, however, had already migrated to Trampas by this time.

In the 1770s, the Spanish government developed an aggressive policy designed to defeat and obtain peace treaties with the various unfriendly Indian tribes in northern New Spain. Juan Bautista de Anza, who was appointed Governor in 1778, realized that in order to establish peace with the hostile tribes, which threatened New Mexico's frontiers, he first had to break the power of the Comanche. To accomplish this, he decided to deal decisively with Cuerno Verde (Green Horn), the most powerful Comanche chief.

In 1779, De Anza launched a daring military campaign in which Cuerno Verde was killed and his tribe defeated in a decisive battle near present-day Pueblo, Colorado. But despite the defeat, Comanche raidings of New Mexico did not stop immediately. Ironically, the effort to follow up and force the Comanche into peace negotiations was hindered by the subsequent diversion of Spanish resources to support the American colonies' rebellion against England. The Spanish government finally entered into a formal peace treaty with the Comanche in 1786. This treaty ended their raids on New Mexico's settlements and gained the Spanish a valuable ally. The Comanche honored the agreement for several decades, allowing a beleaguered New Mexico to divert attention and resources to other matters.

One of those matters was Spain's 1779-1783 War With England in support of the American Revolutionary War. Tomas Madrid and his son Ygnacio were among our ancestors who served during this war. They are among the earliest confirmed members of our Madrid line. It is fitting that Ygnacio marries Josefa Alarid, daughter of Maria Francisca de la Perrera Fernandez, joining the Romero-Vaca legacy into the pedigree. True to their military past, several of Maria’s sons also served in this war with England. Her husband, Juan Bautista Alari of France, is referred to in the documentation as a "former soldier." 


Joseph Juan Gualberto de las Trampas

On the 7th of July of 1767 [years] I solemnly baptized in this church of San Lorenso Joseph Juan Gualberto, resident of Las Trampas, legitimate son of Juan Martin and Maria Reyes Chacon. The Godparents were Juan Cristobal Trugillo and Maria Antonio Chacon, to whom I advised their godparent’s rights. This I sign

F. Juachin Ruiz

Juan Jose Alverto Martin con Manuela Estefana Gonzalez

On the thirteenth of June of the year 1790, I Fray Gabriel de Lago, by the hand of the mission of San Lorenso de Picuris, having fulfilled the requirements determined by the Holy Council of Trent, and preceding to the three proclamations in three days internis sarum solemnia as commanded by our Lady Mother of the Church and the Holy Council of Trent, and having not resulted in any canonical impediments...I married by word and blessed with the authority of the church a Juan Jose Martin of 22 years of age, legitimate son of Juan Martin and Maria de los Reyes Lujan, both dead, of his free will and of being single, as witnessed by Ramon Cordoba, of 52 years old, and Francisca Villapando, of 30 years of age, that testify of these doings, with Manuela Estefana Gonzalez of 18 years of age, legitimate daughter of Francisco Gonzalez, already dead, and of Maria Zamora, of her free will and of being single, [as witnessed by] Jose Leyba of 47 years of age and Juan Baptista Venavides of 32 years of age, who have claimed these saying and doings as true, as have Manuel Torres, and her sister-in-law, Maria Natividad Lujan. In celebrating this said marriage, Assensio Zamora, Pedro Assencio Martin, and Juan de Arguello, all of one or the other, and godparents, residents of this area (supranta suon puandando) on all of the rite and form of Our Lady Mother of the Church and I give faith (meaning to approve) and sign.

Fray Gabriel de Lago 


As New Mexico grew, there was an urgent need to establish communities further from the Rio Grande Valley and out into the frontier. Much of this expansion was made possible through a system of land grants. These grants awarded tracts of land to individuals and groups who agreed to establish settlements and cultivate land along the frontier. This system of land distribution differed greatly with the oppressive encomienda, which characterized New Mexico prior to 1680. It was critical that the individual or group actually live on and develop the land. These grants are one of the most enduring legacies of the Spanish and Mexican colonial experience in New Mexico. We have already discussed the grant creating the settlement at Trampas.

In 1796, the Santa Barbara Land Grant was made to Valentin Martin, and the settlement of Santa Barbara was among the first in the valley. That same year, the village of Peñasco was founded by three families from San Jose who petitioned Governor Fernando Chacon for the land. Founded shortly thereafter were Llano, a small farming and lumbering community, and Llano Largo, a farming community across the valley from Llano. Sometime during the beginning of the 19th century, Calletano Martin, son of Juan Jose Alverto Martin, moved seven miles up the mountain from Trampas to the Llano area to raise his family. Perhaps the opportunity of land brought about by these grants motivated this Martin line again to venture further into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 


Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821. This brought to a close three centuries of Spanish rule in the North American continent, and made New Mexico a part of the Mexican Republic. This change of governments, however, had little initial effect on New Mexico.

A quarter century of Mexican rule in New Mexico ended in 1846. On May 13, 1846, the United States Congress declared war with Mexico, and three months later, General Stephen Watts Kearny and his Army of the West marched along the Santa Fe Trail into New Mexico's undefended northern frontier. Governor Manuel Armijo declared his intention to confront the American army at Apache Canyon, east of the capital, but, in a series of secret meetings with representatives of the American government, Armijo was persuaded not to resist Kearny's forces and instead fled south to El Paso. General Kearny entered Santa Fe on August 18, 1846, and took possession of New Mexico without firing a shot. It was a bloodless conquest, accomplished through diplomacy and guile, much as Diego de Vargas had done during the reconquista of 1692. 


The year 1846 also saw the birth of two ancestors in New Mexico’s northern frontier: Jose Desiderio Martin was born to Cayetano Martin and Maria Margarita Chavez in Llano, and Jose Ignacio Madrid was born to Jose Antonio Madrid and Maria Dolores Borrego. These two children would later link the Martin and Madrid lines. They become the paternal and maternal grandparents, respectively, of Juan Bautista Martinez.

By the time of Cayetano Martin, son of Juan Jose Alverto Martin, we find this family line often going by the name Martinez. In the 1820s, many Martins began to use the spelling Martinez (Martines). There had been relatively few straight Martinez’ in New Mexico and so this change greatly increased the number of families then listed as Martinez. How the Martin line changed to Martinez can be seen in the account of the life of Padre Martinez in the New Mexico Historical Review.

According to the Padre’s baptismal and marriage records at Abiquiu, Tome, and Belen, and also pointed out by Father Chavez, he was born Antonio Jose Martin, the son of Severino Martin and Maria del Carmen Santisteban. Antonio Jose’s father belonged to the old colonial Martin Serrano family, which was then most numerous in northern New Mexico, from Santa Cruz to Taos.

He married Maria de la Luz Martin, another Martin Serrano, but not a direct relative, in 1812. Maria died a year later and their daughter, Maria Luz, died in 1825. The widower, Antonio Jose Martin, went to Durango, Mexico, in 1817 and studied to be a priest. By 1823 when he returned to New Mexico, he signed his name as "Martinez." Following his lead, almost all the Martin Serranos did the same thing in that generation, though some did not.

Knowing the ease with which Nuevo Mexicanos put "s" on the end of words and names this is understandable. The numerous Martin family very readily evolved to los Martines, and from there, to Martinez.


The war with Mexico ended when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in 1848. Two years later, on September 9, 1850, the United States Congress passed an Organic Act which created the Territory of New Mexico and authorized the establishment of a new civil government. James S. Calhoun arrived in New Mexico to serve as the first civil governor.

During the 1850s, a series of military posts were established to control the Indian tribes, which continued to raid throughout the territory. Various peace treaties were made during this decade, which began the process of placing New Mexico's nomadic tribes onto reservations.

In 1855, Jose Antonio Madrid and Maria Dolores Borrego, mentioned previously, had another child of note – Masimo de Jesus Madrid. Juan Ignacio, the older son, would become the great grandfather of Modesto Laurencio Martinez. Masimo, on the other hand, would become the grandfather of Modesto’s wife, Maria Romualda Aurora Sanchez.

After the Civil War, New Mexico underwent a period of unprecedented growth. As New Mexico grew, much of the vast territory remained at the periphery of effective law enforcement. During this "wild west" period of our history, several areas of the territory experienced a rampant lawlessness and regional conflict, which were often complicated by political and commercial rivalries. This period was exemplified by the Lincoln County War, which witnessed the rise to infamy of outlaws such as William "Billy the Kid" Bonney. Other famous names we associate with this turbulent period of our history include Pat Garrett, Elfego Baca, Geronimo and many others. It was during this time that Juan Antonio Martin was born in the mountain village of Llano Largo. Juan was born in 1867 to twenty-one year old Jose Desiderio Martin and his very young wife, Maria Guadalupe Munis.

During Juan Antonio’s childhood, a significant part of the area’s growth began with the arrival of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad at Raton Pass in late 1878. By the end of 1880, the railroad had reached New Mexico's major cities. Within a few years, the AT&SF, the Denver and Rio Grande, and numerous other railway companies had built lines to every corner of the territory to serve the agricultural, livestock, mining, and timber industries which sprang up throughout the territory.

Among the railroad cities that were founded in 1880 was the town of Española, seen in an 1895 map of Rio Arriba and Taos Counties (below). This site was earlier called La Vega de los Vigiles, "Vigil’s Meadow," and was virtually uninhabited until around 1881.

"The land in which the village of Española is now located was originally owned by one Captain Francisco Vigil and was sold in parcels, when the railroad came through, by Benedicto Naranjo, who had married into the Vigil family and inherited some of the land." – 1963 Española Planning Commission

The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad was affectionately called the Chile Line and is still remembered by this name. From 1887 until abandonment in 1941, passenger service in Española was generally daily except Sunday. 


The year 1888 is significant, because it is the year that our Martin line and our Madrid line come together. The Robledo – Gomez and Baca – Ortiz lines had already merged into our Madrid line. Now things begin to consolidate even more.


Dad and Nick Gonzalez (Dad’s cousin) had gotten stuck on the Jose Desiderio question back in the 1980s. This was a problem that caused progress on the patriarchal line to grind to a sudden halt. They knew that Juan Antonio Martin was the son of Jose Desiderio Martin and Maria Guadalupe Munis. The problem was that there were several men named Jose Desiderio Martin who lived in Taos County during the same time frame. Which man was the right one? What was needed was a marriage record linking a Jose Desiderio to a Maria Guadalupe Munis. Unfortunately, no marriage record has ever been found for this couple. The key, which opened up the floodgates of information for this line, was the revelation of a second marriage of fifty-six year old Jose Desiderio Martin to a Maria Nicolasa Sandoval. This critical tip came from a 4th cousin, Albert Vidaurre, who descends from Maria Encarnacion Martin, sister to Jose Desiderio. In twenty-three words, not only did we find the link we were looking for, we also found the name of his parents! The record below will always hold a special place in my heart. I don’t know how his second marriage went, but I’m glad the old man did it!

Jose Desiderio Martin con Nicolasa Sandoval – Mayo 20 de 1897

After [having admonished] two times [ ] I blessed Jose Deciderio Martin, widow of Guadalupe Munis, and legitimate son of Calletano Martin, and Margarita Chaves, with Maria Nicolasa Sandoval, single, legitimate daughter of Tiburcio Sandoval and Maria Rufina Madrid. Witnesses [were] Juan Ysidro Duran and Maria Benita Madrid.

R. Medina FHL #16862


New Mexico became the 47th State of the United States in 1912. Shortly after achieving Statehood, New Mexico and its people were caught up in international events. In 1916 a struggle for power in Mexico spilled over into New Mexico when Pancho Villa’s men raided Columbus in Southern New Mexico. The United States entered World War I the following year.


In 1918, Modesto Laurencio Martinez was born to Juan Bautista Martinez and Maria Rafaela Gutierrez. Juan Bautista was the son of Juan Antonio Martinez. He spelled his name Labrencio throughout his adult life. Laurencio’s family lived in Llano Largo, New Mexico, three miles East of Peñasco and suffered through the Great Depression during his teenage years. During this time, his father had found work out of State. Times were hard and he, being the eldest son and third child of eight, had to help where he could, and was only able to attend a few years of school. One day Laurencio jumped on a train headed for Denver to find work. During the journey he fell asleep only to be awakened by a scuffle. He awoke to find a fellow hispano youth stealing his shoes right off of his feet. The scuffle had started when a young "anglo" man fought off the would-be thief; saving him from being without shoes, which were hard to come by. He learned that day that it is the person(‘s character) that counts, not his race.

In May of 1942, construction began on the Marana Basic Flying School, located off of I-10 just north of Tucson, Arizona. The United States had entered its second year of war. Laurencio entered the Army Air Corps – forerunner to the U.S. Air Force - that same month. He was 23 years old. It is very possible that he was one of the men assigned there for its construction.

"Life at Marana was strictly in the pioneer class in those last days of the summer of ’42. The torrid sun beat down all day and it was nearly dawn before the air cooled off enough for comfortable sleeping. There were no screens on the windows and flies swarmed over men trying to sleep after a hitch on guard." – Marana Basic Flying School

Labrencio was eventually assigned to the 100th Basic Flying Training Group, Headquarters Squadron, at Marana. He held the rank of private, and his duties probably consisted of aiding pilots as they took off and landed. He took a furlough or leave in 1944 to marry Maria Romualda Aurora Sanchez. They married on July 13th in the Santa Cruz Catholic Church. Assuming that he couldn’t bring his wife back with him, he probably had leave for a honeymoon as well. Catalina Cruzita Martinez was born in Embudo, New Mexico, a little over 9 months later.

His discharge papers stated that he had two dependants and had attained the rank of Private First-Class. It also gives his total time of service: 3 years, 10 months, 15 days – February 28th, 1946. This was 6 months after the Japanese surrender, effectively ending World War II. Kate, as his daughter was called, was almost a year old. A second daughter, Margarita, born in Embudo in 1948, died in infancy. Exactly one year and one day later, Labrencio and Aurora had their first son – Jose Antonio Martinez (Tony), also born in Embudo.

After the war, Labrencio probably worked at the mines in Grants, New Mexico, for a time. They lived with two or three young couples to survive until they could get going on their own. Eventually, he was hired as a laborer with the ZIA Corporation, located in Los Alamos. He worked for the road crew for 18 years. His duties probably included using the jackhammer. He eventually became a foreman with this company and was called Larry by his co-workers.

The Martinez’ bought land in Española and slowly built a house that would be the permanent home to accommodate their growing family, which eventually would include Yolanda Inez, Maria Marcella Marina, Maria Elena, and John Benedict Lawerence , all born in Española.

"He built the home one room at a time. I remember living in…two rooms, then, all of sudden there were three rooms. You would walk out the door and there was a big hole where the cellar was going to be. I remember that he spent a lot of his evenings working on the house." - Tony Martinez

Their house abutted the southwest corner of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where they attended Mass. Like most Hispano families of Northern New Mexico, the Catholic Church played an important and central role in the culture and lives of this family. Their oldest son, Tony, was an alter boy from the time he was 8 years old until he was ready for high school. He then boarded at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary for his first two years of high school.

Tony spent his summers in Velarde, a community of farmers and small ranchers, working at the home of his maternal grandparents – Juan de Dios Sanchez and Marina Madrid. Their own children had married and left home, and were in need of assistance and companionship. Aurora and her family weren’t treated as well as her other siblings and their families, and she tried to find favor with her parents by sending her son to stay with them.

Tony spent his time planting and hoeing the garden, selling eggs to the neighbors, and doing other chores. He went with his grandfather to Colorado a few times to sell apples to various families that were his established customers.

"As it turned out, I learned a lot of things. My grandmother – we’d kneel down and pray the rosary every night until…your knees hurt. She would...lay down after that and …had many prayers..already formed (that) she would have to say…before she... went to sleep, so I learned a faith in God…"

"My Mom and Dad weren’t real strict Catholics. They were the type that (were more inclined) to send us to church than (to go as a family)."

"My grandfather told me one time that they believed that if they said a certain prayer, I think it was a Hail Mary and a Holy Mary, every day all their (life) as a commemorative prayer, …an angel would be sent to them three days before they (died). …When my grandfather became ill…he was sent …to Denver (to be seen by)… a specialist. (His) family was sitting by him and (told him), "..Some of us are going back home to New Mexico." He (responded), "Well, don’t worry, in three days I’m going home." And they said, "No…you can’t go home. You have to stay here!" (His reply) "No, you don’t understand, in three days, I’m going home!" Three days later, he died."

"…God knows the intent of our hearts (and) honors righteous desires…according to the knowledge we have." – Tony Martinez

The paternal grandfather – Juan Bautista Martinez – had passed away at the age of 50, before any of Labrencio and Aurora’s children were born. His wife, "Rafaelita" Guitierrez, lived near Peñasco, in Llano Largo, Taos County.

When Dad was sixteen years old, he interviewed for a summer job with ZIA in Los Alamos. In order to work for them, you had to be 18 years old, so he told them he was 18 and got hired. Grandpa was active in union politics, so Dad’s age wasn’t an issue. He was assigned to work under Grandpa, who was a foreman at this time. Dad and "Uncle Frank" (Grandpa’s younger brother) spent the summer clearing areas for new roads and digging trenches. Dad earned $4.00 and hour, plus overtime and time-and-a-half.

Dad recalls that Grandpa was well liked and respected by his men, superintendent, and union members. One of the lessons he learned from Grandpa follows:

"He told me that there were many kinds of workers. There were those who didn’t do very much but always watched for the foreman, or more importantly, the supervisor. When they came around, they would take a tool from an unsuspecting tired worker and begin to work. This would last until the supervisor left, at which time they would very creatively allow the hard workers, who were often spotted resting by the supervisor, to get back to work."

"Second, there were those who did more work in 2 hours than most did all day. However, they were the ones who often got spotted not working, because they were not aware of the comings and goings of their supervisors, and also because they worked so hard that they needed to rest more often. Finally, there were those that (Grandpa) suggested I watch and copy. These were the men who worked steadily throughout the day, not so hard that they were spotted resting too often, and not so easy that they took advantage of others. A good steady pace throughout the day…" - Tony Martinez

Grandpa had a gift for getting along with people of all races, something he had learned those many years ago on the train to Denver. There was a lot of discrimination against the Spanish people in Los Alamos, much more obvious than now. Grandpa explained to Dad that he found it easier to work under Anglo supervisors than "Spanish" supervisors. He explained that it had been his experience that a Spanish supervisor was always afraid of losing his new found power and position to another Spanish person, and was therefore hard to work with. They were always trying to prove themselves – causing them to be mean and unfair to their own. The Anglo supervisors were more secure in their positions and were willing to treat employees good if they were treated well in turn.

Each day on the way to work, Grandpa would drop Grandma off at the home of one of her clients in Los Alamos, where she would provide maid service. She had a couple of families that used her services on alternate days. She did this for about ten years, and had a very close relationship with these families. Later, she worked as a cook at the popular Los Alamos restaurant – Philomena’s.

Grandpa passed away in 1974 at the age of 56. His wife, six children, and 6 grandchildren survived him. During his illness Grandma learned to drive, and continued working at Philomena’s.

A year after he died, Dad, then 26 years old, began working again for ZIA. One day, a man asked for some parts from the shop for personal use. Dad refused, and the man went away angry. Then, around a year later, he approached Dad with a big smile on his face and asked him – "why didn’t you tell me?" To which Dad replied – "what are you talking about?" The response – "Why didn’t you tell me that Larry was your Dad?" It turns out that Grandpa had been this man’s foreman for many years. From that day forward, he treated Dad like a long-time friend. Grandpa was obviously well liked and respected. As Dad recalls it – "His smile and shining eyes radiated his kindness and sensitivity towards others."

Eighteen-year old Tony Martinez and seventeen-year old Helen Archuleta married on May 2, 1967 at the Sacred Heart. They resided principally in Española, and had three sons by 1973, Lee - 6, Alex - 4, and Daniel - 1. The family moved to Albuquerque during the summer of that year.

This article is an excerpt from the 114 page document "A Branch of Los Martinez: From The Upper Santa Cruz Valley To The Sangre de Cristo Mountains" by A. Lee Martinez. Requests for soft copies of the full text can be made to the following e-mail address: [email protected]